Cosmec was challenged to develop a real-time application to monitor a system with more than 600 parts-per-minute and more than 15 different measures (including height, diameter, thread control, top view with screw head cracks quality control) with very tight timing in an environment that is full of iron powder.

The Solution

The team created a custom solution based on four National Instruments 1772 smart cameras and an IP67, and using LabVIEW to develop the software.

We started this project by upgrading a standard machine based on a reconfigurable vision system. We noticed the reconfigurable system’s limitations quickly, so we decided to migrate to a fully programmable platform that could create a tailor-made solution based on customer requirements. The high-performance NI smart cameras are a good solution for this application because they include high-quality CCD combined with a powerful processor. Everything is well integrated in an IP67 mechanical design with waterproof cabling and optical protection.

The dust in the air posed one big problem because iron powder is present in a high concentration. We solved this problem by integrating all IP67 components. We based all the vision algorithms on the NI Vision Development Module and tested them in a high volume of parts before the final release. A key feature is the chance to customize each vision functionality to guarantee the best performance and avoid false-reject. With high-volume production, a sufficient low percentage of fail-rejection can cause high costs for waste parts. The machine has the same footprint as the previous one, but guarantees about double the production rate. All these circumstances have helped a single project to become repetitive with good economic returns for both the machine manufacturer and the customer.

With a goal of user-friendly software, we focused a lot of attention on the GUI. All is designed to allow operators to quickly configure a new product with measures and Pass Fail conditions. The system works like a database to store different production configurations labeled with the part numbers. Users can configure the interface with the touch panel, no keyboard or mouse are required.

The operator can manage the camera’s configuration from the same GUI. The operator can configure the machine parameter, view alarms and fault conditions, and configure the camera’s acquisition and all the camera’s measuring algorithms. The operator has only one interface and from this LabVIEW platform he can manage all the machine’s configurations.

RESULTS

The result is an easy-to-use system with a small footprint. The system is based on a rotating table, four NI Smart Cameras, an Eddy current sensor (with other mechanical test options) and one panel PC for the GUI based on Windows (for non-time critical issues).

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